Tom Campenni

Friends & Neighbors is designed to give you the information that is happening within our County. My goal is to inspire you to get involved and make a change to make Martin County the best it can be. There is lot’s to do! – Tom

News And Views










In an email I received last week, the writer claimed that I have spent too much time at the United Way, that I was a communist, and that I was wrong about Dr. Collins. I would have published the email, but it was unsigned. I wrote back and requested his name but never heard back.


I have no names associated with email addresses, so they need to be signed if they are to be published. Subscribers are completely anonymous even to me. And I intend to keep it that way.

As to his points, I really don’t spend enough time at United Way doing good things for others. In this person’s mind, the United Way is some sort of subversive organization. United Way of Martin County could not be more apolitical. If that person is using support of United Way as a pejorative, I wonder why? Perhaps collecting money and donating it to charities such as House of Hope, Helping People Succeed, and more than 30 other agencies and 47 programs, is some sort of conspiracy to subvert the nation in that person’s mind.


Perhaps the views are so impassioned because I also sit on the board of the United Way of Florida in addition to the local chapter’s board. That board doesn’t give money to anyone. It just helps local United Ways with technical support and lobbying.


As to being a communist, I find that laughable. Until I retired last December, I owned businesses in the private sector for 50 years. If this person had bothered to read anything I wrote, he/she would see that I am a strong proponent of markets and against government subsidies. I often have written tax dollars should not be squandered. I did so in this edition regarding subsidies to Stuart Main Street.


Which brings me to Dr. Collins. When he says I am wrong about Collins, he must mean in the last newsletter I was very critical of him. And I was. In this edition, I wrote Collins showed respect during the meeting and I agreed on his vote regarding subsidizing Main Street.


Chris Collins won a hard-fought election. I completely disagree on his development philosophy, but I agree so far with his fiscal one. I have no animosity toward him or any other commissioner. And I respect his having been chosen by the voters to sit on that dais.


If Collins agrees with me on certain fiscal policies, does that mean he is a communist? Some people never let facts get in the way of their beliefs. And perhaps that is why we are so polarized.


This week we have begun to accept notices from non-profits so you can be informed about what is going on in our community. For now, we will place them in the same section after the constitutional offices’ notices. We are revamping our website and they will have their own section in the new year.


If you are a non-profit or a board member of a non-profit, please make sure to have them sent to me at It is free so why not take advantage.


Darlene writes about a conference she attended on immigration. Nicki on the Miami Book Fair, and David on Thanksgiving. Fletch on Christmas giving, Rob on housing needs, Missi on family and the holiday, and Sperco on fishing. Gonzalez writes on the property insurance crises. Jackie has another profile on a Martin County resident making a difference.


We also have all the news from our local governments along with selected articles and our own editorials to round out the edition.


Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!





Thanksgiving has become the lost holiday. Yet to me, it is one of the best.


It is sandwiched between Halloween and Christmas and is either a prologue or an afterthought. Many see it as a day to watch football. Or get ready to begin Christmas shopping. Others can’t believe that they have a four-day weekend to gorge on holiday fare.


In my mind, there are only two universal American celebrations, Independence Day, and Thanksgiving. They should be celebrated by every American whether they are a recent arrival or are an old staid Boston Brahman. July 4th means fireworks, hot dogs, and beer and at least a passing mention of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia, and the Founders.

Thanksgiving has the Pilgrims sitting down to break bread with Native Americans who were their saviors in those early years. Turkey with all the trimmings mean Thanksgiving to many of us. But 400 years ago, turkey may have been only one of many items on the table. There was shellfish and other seafood, venison, and different game along with corn, squashes, and anything else contained in the larder.


Today Americans celebrating the holiday are more than just the descendants of Anglo-Saxons. Americans have roots from all over the world. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving to me without pasta, meatballs, sausage, and all the other Italian American foods I grew up with to go along with the turkey, stuffing, and the many other dishes associated with the holiday. For others, there are tamales, pernil, borscht, corn bread, collards and macaroni and cheese.


Because America is not homogeneous but was founded on an idea of inclusion that should be embraced by every American regardless of whether their origins reach back a day or hundreds of years. Too often now, we meld into our political and ideological silos without respecting or trusting someone else’s opinions and motives. That is not what Thanksgiving is about. That is not what America should be about either.


We should give thanks for all we have been blessed with.






The Republican Party of Florida did a terrific job in this election. Governor DeSantis won by 19 points over Democrat Crist. Rubio trounced Demings, and there are super majorities in the Florida House & Senate. It was a great night for Republicans in our now really, really red state.

In Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp was handily re-elected against Stacey Abrams who narrowly missed beating him in 2018. An entire slew of Republican candidates won up and down the state except for Hershel Walker. Walker owes his candidacy to Trump as his hand-picked guy. If he wins in the runoff, it will probably be because Kemp has made a pledge to Senator McConnell to harness his excellent ground team to assist Walker.


Ohio saw Governor Mike DeWine win over his Democrat opponent by 25 points. While Trump endorsed JD Vance for the Senate, he won by less than 7. Once blue Ohio has gone almost solidly red.


Florida, Georgia, and Ohio have conservative governors who have ignored the mad man of Mar-a-Lago. They have kept their heads down, followed for the most part conservative principles, and governed their states. What they proved was Americans want center right government and policies. Not crazy!


I think DeSantis should be more in the mold of DeWine and Kemp. I am glad that he is ignoring Trump’s outburst and provocations against him. If he would only put away the rhetoric and just go about the rather boring and mundane work of government.


Trump is not and should not be the future of the party. He has cost many an election and, except for a few, he is hurting the Republican Party badly. Maybe Ron is where we should be, or it could be a dozen others who can jump in for 2024. Don is surely not the one to lead Republicans to victory.






Last week, two planes collided at the Dallas Air Show. It happened the same day that Stuart had its own air show. Could it happen here? It was just last year when a plane crashed at Stuart Air Show.


I am not a fan of air shows…any air shows. I have heard all the reasons to have them. Tax revenue, good for our tourist-related businesses, and it helps in our name recognition. While it may do all those things, it also costs money for both Martin County and Stuart in services provided. And for many residents the noise is incredible.


It is also dangerous. Crashes happen and Witham is in a very populated area. There is no guarantee that an accident would happen over the airport only. There are many homes and businesses on the periphery of the field.


If the airport were being built today, it would never be allowed to be located there. Like so many things, we are stuck with it because of the federal government not allowing the airport to be moved and probably our own inertia. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything necessary to have Stuart protected from more risk.





Other Opinions





By Keith Fletcher CEO & President of

Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County


Before every Thanksgiving dinner growing up, we would pause—no doubt like many of you—before saying grace to recite what we were thankful for.


Age (and I like to think wisdom) have taught me the value this practice. In fact, the privilege of working with children and families in need—who often count as blessings the simplest things many of us take for granted—reminds me daily of its importance.

When counting my top professional blessings, I start with the kindness of our community and the caliber of colleagues in the nonprofit space who give and live to lighten the burden of the less fortunate and ensure their holiday season shines bright.

The City of Stuart and NAACP of Martin County host the 21st annual Miracle on 10th Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 17 at Guy Davis Park. Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County is excited to support this event, which will provide gifts to children ages 4 to 12. To contribute, call the NAACP at (772) 215-2411 or (772) 288-5340.


We’re excited to host our Winter Wonderland Day at our Hobe Sound club Dec. 19 in conjunction with children from our partners the Hobe Sound Early Learning Coalition and Banner Lake Club. Attendees will enjoy music, food, gift wrapping, gift giving and time with Santa himself. We’ll make sure every club member receives backpacks full of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy pantry items, prepared meals, and snacks to ensure they don’t go hungry over holiday break.

To contribute, you can leave toy donations at drop-off locations participating in our Operation Merry and Bright. For more, visit


Thankfully, we’re far from the only organization collecting and providing toys and other essentials to local children in need. United Way of Martin County offers Toys for Tots collection sites at area businesses for here


The Angel Tree by the Salvation Army of Martin, St. Lucie & Okeechobee Counties collects toys and clothes for more than 1,700 children in need. Follow and support their efforts at


In addition to the generosity of individual donors and businesses, dedication of fellow nonprofit colleagues, and children and families we get to serve, I’m thankful for the BGCMC team.

We’re blessed to provide a host of resources and programming on academics, healthy lifestyles, good citizenship, workforce development and more. But club life, as we call it, is underscored by a simple goal: Creating an atmosphere of safety, stability, support, and acceptance for the children in our care. My incredible staff makes that a reality daily.


This is a foundational blessing—and one I seldom if ever considered growing up. Looking back, I know it made all the difference. Together, all of us working in the nonprofit arena help provide it to those for whom it’s been most absent.

That’s something we can all say grace over.


Happy Thanksgiving.


Keith Fletcher’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint



By Darlene VanRiper



I recently attended a FAIR conference.


Not the kind of fair you’re thinking of right now.  This acronym stands for Federation for American Immigration Reform.  Wikipedia defines this organization as an “anti-immigration organization”.  I didn’t find that at all.


What I did find was that they have gathered a wealth of evidence concerning who and what is coming across our southern border.  In full disclosure the organization does publish, organize educational events, and help politicians who advance policy change regarding immigration policy.


The speakers from ICE and the DEA etc. were very well vetted and I had no doubt of their sincerity or experience.  Some of the information I had heard before, but much was staggeringly surprising.  Such as illegal immigrants are now given court dates as far in the future as 85 months and only 1% show up.


Usually those who show up for their appointed court date are doing so because they are those unlucky enough to have been detained in centers.  We have very few centers and they are filled to the max.  These centers are so overfilled that border patrol agents have been reassigned to paper pushing processor positions.  Leaving our border even less protected.


A former 3rd in command at the DEA explained that in Arizona’s 60-mile-long border section which is included in a Native American Reservation, improvements for tracking the illegal alien (yes, that is the legal terminology) crossings, such as installment of communication towers which allows the border patrol agents (often alone) to communicate with headquarters, are not allowed because of Native American sovereignty.


Arizona has more crossing issues than Texas.  But the media seems intent on emphasizing Texan issues.  In response, more agents have been transferred to the Lonestar State, leaving the Arizona border even more vulnerable.  There were 20,000 “get aways” at the Arizona border in one weekend.  ICE knows this because the crossings are videoed by drones.  These “shadows of society” as President Obama once dubbed them, disappear into our communities.


I heard other shocking stats such as 33% of the females crossing (including children as young as 10) are raped…at least once.  “Rape trees”, on which cartel members hang the panties of their victims, are real.  Migrants, at least 1400, have been found dead on US soil in the last 2 years.


Shops on the Mexican side of the border have sprung up to sell necessary items such as camo attire and carpet shoes.  Carpet shoes are designed to wipe away footprints in the desert terrain.  Ah, learn something new every day!

Tuberculosis, once thought to be eradicated in the US, has been reintroduced.  The 97 illegals listed on the terrorist watch list whom ICE managed to apprehend, paid the cartels extra so they wouldn’t have to give themselves up to authorities.  Understand they can pay less and surrender at the border and be processed (minimally and without expulsion) or they can pay a bit more, upwards of $5,000, to avoid detection all together.


Why would they do that?  Because they have a criminal record?  Because they have been deported before?  Because they are on the terrorist watch list?   Remember these are the 97 who failed.  We have no idea how many have successfully disappeared into our cities.

More disconcerting than all of this is the amount of fentanyl they are bringing with them.  One handicapped guy was caught with 1400 pills hidden in his crutches!  The DEA estimates that only 10% of the fentanyl coming is seized.


Over ten million pills were seized in 4 months.  They sell for upwards of $20 per pill.  This money goes to enrich the cartels.  These pills are very toxic.  You have a 1 in 20 chance of dying if you take one.  The Mexican navy seized 25 tons…. TONS of the stuff.  That’s enough to kill EVERYONE ON THE PLANET nearly twice.


This is not a problem of the much-maligned drug addict.  This is the problem of every 16- to 24-year-old that goes to a party thinking they’re snorting a line of cocaine or taking Ecstasy.  These are your kids and grandkids. That is the age group with the highest probability of dying from fentanyl.


Oxy and Meth have taken a back seat.  This is not overdosing, this is poisoning.  The difference being that someone who overdoses has crossed the line with their drug of choice. They knew what they were taking.  Poisoning is when they didn’t know which drug they were using.


They had no choice.  They were fooled.  They were murdered.  Your son-in-law with the back issues dies after thinking he’s taken an Oxycodone from a street dealer.  There is no chance of rehabilitation when you are dead.


Darlene VanRiper’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.




Nicki’s Place

By Nicki van Vonno



Giving Thanks


Thirty-nine years ago, I attended the very first Miami Book Festival.


I haven’t been to one in a very long time. In 1988 Judy Snyder created Book Mania because when she asked, “What do you miss about Miami?” I replied that I missed the Miami Book Fair and the Miami Film Festival. Judy ‘s retort? “I can’t help you with the one, but I can do something about a book fair.” Our own Book Mania celebrated its 25th Anniversary in March 2019.


This year I decided to go to the Miami Book Festival. I went down for the opening sessions that included the authors Michael Pollen, John Waters, Gene Nealon, and Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Two are journalists, one is a comic and artist, and one is a creative genius. I got their books and listened as they talked about the craft of writing, the craft of being successful, and many interesting tidbits about life and love and gossip. John Waters has a library of thousands of books. The Books are catalogued, just like in our local library, one of my visions of heaven!


I listened, but I confess, I was there for the books!!! Books are an addiction. Sometimes I just need to own a book. I have piles of books, and all breathe out the night air and the starlight and the mystery of life.


You wonder about this. Doesn’t she give thanks for her family, her blessings? It’s Thanksgiving! Yes, and in my family, books were part of the blessings. Reading is FUNdamental. It’s not just a slogan. My Mom taught me to read and bequeathed her love of reading to me. I in turn handed it down to my daughter.


So go buy a book along with that turkey and read a story aloud to your family. They write books about football! “Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last String Quarterback with the Detroit Lions.” by George Plimpton is a groundbreaking book about football written in 1966.

I give thanks to the Miami Book Festival. I am so grateful for its thirty-nine-year history of offering the finest writers in the world every year at the festival, and throughout the year with online offerings. I think I’ll have to spend the 40th Anniversary with them next year.


In the meantime, Book Mania is on April 1, 2023 at Jensen Beach High School.


See you there!


Nicki van Vonno’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.





By David Hafner




Inflation has made the cost of a traditional Thanksgiving meal increase by about 14% year over year for the last two years.


Organizations like House of Hope, Elev8 Hope, and the Treasure Coast Food Bank are working hard to distribute Thanksgiving meals to local families, so they won’t go without. These organizations and many more are a big part of what makes Martin County a great place to live.


Thanksgiving week is a peculiar time to me. On Thursday we will give thanks for all that we have, but as soon as the leftovers are tucked away, we will rush out to spend, spend, spend. Isn’t that the reason for the season- at least that is what the commercials depict. Wish lists will fill our minds as we anticipate all the things, we will get on Christmas morning.


What if we break that cycle? What if we stop the greed and focus on being grateful for what we have just a little bit longer? What if we dial things down and put meaning back into the holidays? What if we give Thanksgiving more than just one day?

In that spirit I would like to share with you not the things that I want, but rather the things for which I am thankful:


  • I am thankful for my family and the great support they have shown me over the years.


  • I am thankful for a cool breeze and the cloud’s shade as I am mending fences or doing other outside work; they feel like a gift from God.


  • I am thankful that when I stop for fuel or run into a store, I am met with kindness from fellow Martin County residents even though I am told our community is divided.


  • I am thankful to be a part of a community that cares and gives to the least of us so that everyone has an opportunity to succeed.


  • I am thankful for our Martin County staff and their dedication to their stations. Every time I have requested a meeting with a member of staff I have been impressed with the level of service and respect I have been given. I am thankful to have a platform in this newsletter from which to share my thoughts to my community and I am thankful for the people who stop me and tell me they appreciate my columns.


  • I am thankful to be a Martin County resident and I pray you will take time this week to appreciate the things you have. Do not focus so much on the things you want but instead on how you can help your neighbor. Giving really is the best gift. Let Matthew 22:37-40 lead you.


David Hafner’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint.





Rob Ranieri

CEO for House of Hope



Martin County. It’s different here.


If you are a local resident, you have likely heard that statement often. There is certainly truth to it. We are a slow growth community. Our County has done an incredible job over many years preserving land and creating a beautiful network of public parks and beaches. These and other attributes make us different than the counties to the north and south of us.


However, when it comes to the percentage of people living in poverty, or paycheck to paycheck, our statistics are just as troubling as other communities in the region. It may surprise you to know that in Martin County, just under 12% of our neighbors live at or below the poverty line according to the 2021 census.


That number is likely higher now with the rising cost of housing, food, and other necessities. Another 33% of our community is considered the ALICE population (asset limited, income constrained, employed) according to a 2022 report. So nearly half of our community, and possibly more, are facing or will face extremely difficult financial circumstances in their household.


There are many reasons that so many people are in such challenging financial circumstances. The economy and the availability of living wage jobs in the area has an effect. So do medical expenses, health care rates, and prescription costs. Education is a major factor, from early learning to third grade readiness to high school and post high school opportunities. We will certainly talk about these factors in future columns.

Lack of affordable housing is also a major problem that is keeping people in poverty and pushing so many others toward financial instability. This is the issue I am choosing to highlight in this column.


I have been a Martin County resident for nearly 30 years, and for the first time that I can recall, our Martin County Commissioners and our City of Stuart Commissioners are both discussing housing and the need for diverse options so that all residents have a safe place to live. Leading organizations in our business community, including the Palm City Chamber of Commerce and the Business Development Board of Martin County are talking about the importance of affordable housing as it relates to success for local businesses and the local economy.


More and more residents are attending County and City Commission meetings and making their voices heard on the issue of housing. At a recent City of Stuart workshop on housing, it was obvious to most of the Commissioners that the public sees affordable housing as a priority. The Martin County Commissioners are planning to look at the issue of affordable and attainable housing at a December meeting.


While the pessimists among us may say that this is just talk, I would argue that this is a start. Awareness and understanding of the problem, and a desire to seek solutions is the path to change. It is vital that our local government, businesses, non-profits, funders, and philanthropists all work together on this issue. Please lend your voice.


If you cannot attend meetings, email city and county commissioners on the topic.  As renowned author and teacher Margaret J. Wheatley once said, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”


I am proud to live in such a caring community. Happy Holidays to all the readers of Friends & Neighbors.


Rob Ranieri’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint




By Michele Libman M.D.




Michele has taken this edition off

Michele Libman’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint





By John Gonzalez



The housing market in Florida seems to be returning to a more traditional flow of inventory for buyers and sellers.


Sellers are taking advantage of gains they have received to move up, out, or downsize. Buyers are more cautious and taking their time due to larger inventory and higher interest rates. Real estate economists caution that most of the country will see a falloff in actual sales volume in 2023. It is expected that Florida will buck the US trend due to climate, taxes, freedoms and all the other wonderful benefits of living on our peninsula.


There is one large problem facing our housing industry. My concern for all current and future homeowners is the “property insurance crisis” that we are currently facing. I had intended to author this article prior to the arrival of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole which will add additional stress to the insurance market. It is almost guaranteed that property insurance premiums will rise in the coming year. We have lost insurers, had catastrophic claims and the system has been attacked by fraud.


If you do not know how the “insurance crisis” has reached this point you must first look to the roofing and legal community. Starting about 10 years ago, unscrupulous roofers (there are many honest roofers) began to target consumers with apparent roof damage. Consumers were told they could get a new roof if they would assign their insurance benefits (AOB) over to the roofing company. The roofer would replace the roof, file inflated claims to the insurance carrier, the carrier would deny the claim – enter the attorneys. Working on behalf of the roofer the attorney would sue the carrier and ultimately settle the claim – including attorney fees and the inflated roof repair.


Consumers are not innocent. Many homeowners were taking advantage of policy loopholes to have a new roof. Insurance was never intended to be a savings account for our home’s roof. It was intended to be a backstop to a huge loss in the event of a catastrophic event. Between the consumer, supply chain costs, roof claims, and attorney fees – we will all pay higher premiums. Our 30-year roof will be uninsurable after 15 years – forcing us to get new roofs.


Is there relief in sight? The Florida Legislature is going into a special session in December to address this issue. The governor, CFO and our legislators are all promising comprehensive solutions to this problem.

I believe them and expect to see additional curbs on AOB abuse, caps on litigation fees, larger commitment from Florida to the reinsurance market, and more. We, the homeowners, need to contact our leaders and tell them we need help. We need to tell our stories about experiences with canceled policies, roof replacement demands, and other related concerns.


Finally, there are things we can do to prevent fraud before filing a claim. Be thoughtful, read the insurance policy, contact your local agent, and use a local reputable contractor. The State CFO has a good website and articles to read. here


John Gonzalez’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint





By Missi Campbell

Executive Director of the Palm City Chamber



I’ve always felt sorry for Thanksgiving, stuck between Halloween and Christmas, it seems to be forgotten.


Maybe it’s because we don’t “decorate” for Thanksgiving?  Maybe it’s because we don’t have gifts or treats?  I personally, think that a day spent eating with family and friends while enjoying football is a treat!


I believe it is a very important holiday both historically and emotionally since it is all about being thankful.  I don’t think that we truly need a “day” to be thankful because it is a feeling that should exude from each one of us every day.  I see people that are struggling in their lives, yet they can always find a reason to be thankful.  There are those that have so much to be grateful for and somehow, they lose that perspective and outlook.


As a Kindergarten teacher for 34 years, I learned to see the world through the eyes of a 5-year-old child.  It is a wonderful and magical place when you can go back and do that.  Take time in your day to think about how a child would react to your daily issues and reflect on what you should be grateful for.

Sadly, people tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive.  Compliment your server for good service, thank the receptionist at your doctor’s office for getting you an appointment, and BE KIND to the people you meet at the grocery store.


I am very grateful for so much in my life.  First and foremost are my family and friends.  My two adult children, their spouses, and my precious granddaughter give me a joy that cannot be expressed.  Not only are they fabulous individuals, but I am also fortunate to have them all right here in Martin County near me.


My boyfriend is a bonus to my life daily.  He is willing to participate in events, even dressing up in costumes when requested. He keeps me on my toes and shares his wonderful life with me.  I used to say that I had more friends than God intended one person to have, but then I added so many more.  I feel blessed and thankful every day.


As we all prepare for Thanksgiving, take time to really appreciate the day and remember to focus on what is important to you and be thankful for all that you have.  If you are able, donate gifts, funds, or your time to a non-profit that has a mission that speaks to you.  Remember that the holidays are a time to share with others.


Missi Campbell’s opinions are her own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint




BY Capt. Paul Sperco


The fishing in our area was certainly not the main focus of attention as Hurricane Nicole was setting her sights on our local beach area last week.


We certainly had some coastal flooding and beach erosion but all in all we missed the major hit that we could have had. As far as the fishing is concerned, anytime there is a major weather event like a tropical storm or hurricane, there are always direct changes as to fishing locations, tactics, species to target, and techniques to use to get a rod to bend.


The most obvious in our area was the beach erosion and huge changes to all our beach accesses. The general configuration of beaches changes from 25-foot waves and huge amounts of water battering the surf up and down the coast. I will tell you the near shore trough from our local accesses like Tiger Shores, Stuart Beach, Beachwalk Pasley, and Santa Lucea have been eliminated due to the amount of sand that was sucked back out as the waves, wind, and currents receded.


The species that we catch in that first trough like whiting, croaker, palometa, and even snook do not have that highway that runs north and south along the beach to cruise and find the small crabs, baitfish, and clams that they like to feed on. Mother Nature in time will redevelop those drop offs and when they do reappear the fish will be there.


As far as the species that run the second trough like the migratory pompano, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, and jacks they are alive and well as of today, November 14. I just returned from the beach and the pompano bite was great along with some of those other species I just mentioned.

I caught and released approximately 30 undersized pompano and managed to put 9 nice keepers in the cooler. It is the time of year for these guys to be showing and it appears Nicole just delayed their movement by about a week. It is time to break out the long surf rods as all of the pompano will be 60 to 100 yards from the edge of the surf.


My number one comment when I start one of my seminars is ” There are 2 reasons surfcasters do not catch pompano. You can’t reach them, or you are fishing in off colored water.” Fishbites has made the bait end of catching pompano easy because all you need is to buy a couple of bags, cut them into 1-inch pieces, and put them on your hook.


My favorite scents and colors for the pompano are EZ Flea, Electric Chicken Crab, and Yellow Crab. All of my fish today were caught on Yellow Crab. I usually start with a different scent and color on each rod and then switch over to whatever bait the pompano have zeroed in on that day.


The focus for the next few months will be on the pompano and next month I will dedicate the column to targeting this fish and how to catch them from our local bridges. This has become a very popular way to put some in the cooler. If anyone would like to attend my free Seminar on catching pompano and other species from the surf and bridges, that venue will be on December 3 at Bass Pro Shops on Gatlin Blvd. in Port St Lucie at 2 pm.


You can contact the store or myself at 609-903-8243 if you would like any further information. Pompanomania is here and our Martin County beaches will be one of the best areas in Southeast Florida to target and catch a few of these great fighting and simply delicious fish. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and get out on the beach and have some fun.


Paul Sperco’s opinions are his own and may not reflect Friends & Neighbors viewpoint





Other Government Notices

And from our Supervisor of Elections:






From the Property Appraiser

Geographic Information Systems (also known as GIS) puts data on maps and is used in everyday life, like the maps on your smartphone or the weather maps you see on tv. Our Office uses GIS a lot. To learn how and why, watch our next educational video about the GIS/Mapping Department.


YouTube video link: HERE






United Way Campaign Cabinet Members
Brighten Up the Hibiscus Shelter


Martin County –  When the members of the United Way of Martin County Campaign Cabinet heard the Hibiscus Shelter was in need of assistance with cleaning, they grabbed their cleaning supplies and went to work!  Members Dee Blount, Sarah Powers, Elisabeth Glynn, Amy Bottegal, Leslie Warren, Patty McAuley, Tom Whittington and Lisa Satur helped make the Tilton Family Children’s Shelter in Jensen Beach sparkle for the kids!  They cleaned walls, baseboards, windows, light switches, tables and chairs throughout the Shelter.  The Shelter is a 36-bed safe haven for abused children removed from their own homes.  This dynamic group of community movers and shakers did an amazing job in brightening up the children’s home.   The Shelter staff do an outstanding job taking care of the children and keeping the Shelter clean, but with 75 children annually living in the Shelter, extra helping hands are a blessing!


“As community leaders it’s important to set an example and give back.  Being Involved with the United Way of Martin County allows us to support so many different organizations including Hibiscus Children’s Center,” said Amy Bottegal, SouthState Bank, and United Way of Martin County Campaign Chair.


Hibiscus Children’s Center is grateful to this group who worked hard to help give the children a beautiful home where they feel safe and loved.  Please visit us at to learn more about how you can get involved or contact Michelle King, Chief Development Officer, at (cell) 561-452-5791 or





I urge those who are reading this newsletter to send an email expressing their opinions on subjects. When a reader sends one, it will be included if I find it relevant and I have adequate space. I may edit the letter because of length and clarity. You don’t have to agree with me to have your letter in Friends & Neighbors. All you must do is send it to or fill out the form on the website.



From Patrick Lapier:


Hello Tom


Just a quick note on Congressional Pensions.  They do not get full pay.  But they do get a pension which can increase and does include full medical benefits.  See below.


Congressional members are eligible for their own unique pension plans under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), though there are other retirement benefits available, ranging from Social Security and the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). 4 Currently, members of Congress are eligible for a pension dependent on the member’s age at retirement, length of service, and salary. 5 The pension value can be up to 80% of the member’s final salary. 6 Since 2009 Congressional pay has been $174,000 per year, which, at an 80% rate, equates to a lifelong pension benefit of $139,200. 7 All benefits are taxpayer-funded.


I made a mistake running something that was not fully vetted. The original was from Warren Buffet that was sent by a letter writer to the newsletter that she had found. While I thought the subject of the piece was interesting it was incorrect on the congressional pension system.


Which shows that even when Buffet speaks, he is not always correct. 





MartinCounty Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Commission




It was a light agenda for this meeting.


The county had an RFP to engage firms to perform public relations, communication, and community outreach. There were six firms that answered the RFP. Two of them were local, Firefly Group and Cotton & Company Inc. Neither were picked by the selection committee.


The two most highly ranked firms were Quest Corporation of America and M Network Inc. Commissioner Hetherington asked why there was not at least one local group. Commissioner Ciampi believes that the internal staff is very good, but he understands that they cannot do everything that the county needs in this area. Both wanted to have a firm that knew Martin County.

Commissioner Smith asked whether there was latitude in this regard to pick more than two firms for consideration. Assistant County Administrator George Stokus said if that was going to be done, then he would recommend that all firms be in the selection. Commissioner Hetherington made the motion to include all six then departments could pick the firm that best suited their needs on a case-by-case basis. It was seconded by Ciampi and passed 4-0. Commissioner Heard was absent from the meeting.


You can find the ranking sheet here


The proposed Hobe Sound Tennis Center located on Federal Highway and SE Constitution Blvd was approved in a 4-0 vote. It will have 12 tennis courts, a clubhouse, and a pool. The PAMP will take up more than 25% of the 9-acre property.


You can see the presentation here








I left the meeting after 5.5 hours. It was still going on. Except in extraordinary circumstances, no meeting should be that long.


The commission did not hear several other items that had also been included in the agenda but were deferred. The new codes had not yet been presented to the LPA so could not go forward. They were for the Creek and East Stuart Form Based Codes.


Those two items alone deserve to be for two separate special meetings where they can be adequately explained by staff, give the public an opportunity to speak, and have enough discussion by the commission. This tendency to put so much on an agenda “to get it out of the way” does not do justice to a deliberative and informed commission making decisions.


At this meeting, there were many proclamations. Some of them were for things that had already occurred. Two of them had no one present to accept the proclamation. One had the acceptors giving speeches for what seemed an interminably long time…pages and pages of prepared text were read.


I have often complained that the business of government doesn’t happen until two hours into the meeting. The county has their proclamations done in about ten minutes. There is something to be learned by that.


When new commissioners begin, there is a learning curve. Some realize that the best course of action for a period is to learn procedure and not play “gotcha” with staff and other commissioners. Others jump into the fray without knowing all the unintended consequences of their actions.


Commissioner Collins has acted that way in past meetings, especially with the Zippy controversy. He seems to have learned from his past actions based on the way he acted at this meeting. Commissioner Rich, unfortunately, has not yet caught on.


During commissioner comments, Rich began by trying to have the commission place on an upcoming agenda a discussion to withdraw from the Kanner CPUD appeal which is currently awaiting the decision by the Governor’s Council. The decision is all but certain to be rendered at their December 13th meeting.

There are several things that are objectionable by trying to do that at this late date. First the commission (when Matheson & Meier were members) voted 5-0 to have Attorney Mike Mortell defend the city at the administrative level and then they voted again 5-0 to have Mortell do so at the Governor’s Council. Because of the commission’s decision, the applicant relied on the city to defend the commission’s unanimous approval of the project in August 2021. By trying to change the course of action now the applicant will have his rights seriously impaired.


We all know and understand that Commissioner Rich would not have voted in favor of the original approval or would he want the city to defend that decision through this process. Commissioner Collins would not have voted for it either. What they would have done is immaterial to what was done. Once a decision is made by a previous commission, it must be relied on otherwise there is no legitimacy to any decision. The city gave the applicant their word to defend that decision.


Commissioner Rich read from a memo sent by the attorney representing the other side outlining his arguments. It is my understanding that every commissioner received the same memo. What is lost in this is there is pending litigation between Ms. Cartwright, the litigant, and the city. The commissioners are the city. I always thought that an attorney for one side could not speak without going through the other attorney.


And I would ask why Ms. Cartwright is contacting commissioners about pending litigation where she is suing the city. I don’t understand why the commissioners would speak with her. That doesn’t mean they can’t speak with her about other matters…just not on the pending litigation.


Rich went on to cite how badly he believed staff had screwed up in this matter. He grilled no one in particular and seemed to be on the cusp of belligerency. That isn’t the best way to ingratiate yourself with the very people that could be instrumental to you being a success as a commissioner.


During the discussion, Commissioner Rich showed exactly what he was trying to do when he said that once the council rules against Cartwright then the city will have to live with the development. This was a pretext to stop a project he doesn’t believe in by settling a case when a ruling is eminent.


That is the crux of the matter. Rich wants to overturn a decision that was made by an earlier commission because he disagrees. Going forward, it is on Rich’s watch, but he cannot reverse what happened before he was a commissioner.


Rich made the motion to place it on the next agenda. It was seconded by Collins. Rich and Collins voted yes, and McDonald and Bruner voted no. It failed. Commissioner Clarke was absent.


Besides the discussion was had with every point brought up by Rich during his comments. Mortell refuted his assertions and stated the city’s position. It was thoroughly aired. Rich is not a lone wolf but now a member of Stuart city government. It is not he against the city. He is the city. When the present commission decides on a land use, he would expect staff to make sure it is carried out and not reverse it.


Commissioner Rich your campaign is over. Now it is time to get to the governing part. That old phrase we have met the enemy and it is us would be apropos in this instance.


The Flagler lease with Main Street was up for renewal.

The city and Main Street have three different agreements. A service agreement, the green market agreement, and this lease. They all have different start and end dates. So how these agreements and what they cost the city are never placed in context.


The service agreement pays Main Street $70,000 per year. Originally when negotiated in 2019, it was to be reduced over the 3 years to zero. It still is at the original amount. The below market lease is for $2700 per month. It was given to the organization at the reduced rent so income from rentals would be able to sustain Main Street when the subsidy went away. Everyone seems to have forgotten that fact.


The organization subsequently took on the green market. One of the provisions was that they would pay the city 20% of the profit after expenses including management. Last year, the city earned $5600 according to Main Street. It means that Main Street made $28,000 after expenses. And after paying the city, Main Street netted $22,400.


The service agreement calls for Main Street to have “Rockin Riverwalk.” That program has been going on for years. It originally was done to bring people downtown so that the merchants would open their stores on Sunday. Stores have now been open for years. I don’t know how much the concerts influences those stores to be open but, at this point, why should taxpayers be subsidizing those downtown businesses in the form of providing entertainment?


Regarding all the other events that Main Street puts on, the organization hires an event planner to do them all. I don’t have a problem with Main Street as an organization but at what point does it not depend on tax money from the guy living on Akron Street to sustain itself? Where is the fairness to the rest of us? Main Street has become another racket that is taking money from the government.


Regarding Flagler Center…one of two things should happen to it. It should go out to RFP or the city should take it back and use the office space that currently is there for themselves and build more offices in the smaller venue across the court yard. They can keep the big meeting room as is for city events or for use by other groups.


It seemed only Commissioner Collins was concerned with the city’s obvious cronyism with a group of special people (many of whom are not even residents). He asked the right question and did it in the right tone.


Commissioner Rich interrogated the board and staff. It seemed he also got it but then after making all the right assumptions that the lease should not be renewed, he turned around and voted for the three-year extension. His brusque interrogation won him no friends from Main Street, and they will remember that and not his yes vote.


The lease can be found here


This was a missed opportunity to place this relationship back on track. Unfortunately, the commission chose cronyism over being watchdogs of the taxpayer dollar. I was not sympathetic to Collins in the last newsletter. He was right on the money with this vote of no. The motion for the extension passed 3-1.


After being pushed off several times, DogsWorld Kennel and Daycare’s conditional use application was being heard.

The applicant proposed taking the old Construction Journal building and turning it into that use instead of an office building. It is my understanding that there is a glut of office space on the market, and this would be an adaptive re-use. Is this the right location for this use?


The CRB (I am a member) placed several conditions on saying yes to this use. One was that the wall around the two outside areas be 6 feet and have planting around and atop the wall. The outside area would also have to have a waste system like the dog day care in North Stuart, and according to the noise study provided at the time of application, there be no more than 5 dogs per outside area. Also, the pickup and drop off would occur via Colorado Avenue to mitigate driving through the adjacent residential neighborhood.


The applicant did a new noise study and requested that the industry standard of one small dog per 40 sq feet and a large dog of 100 sq feet should be used. The small dog area is 2300 sq feet and the large dog area is 6750 sq ft. Using their metrics, they would be allowed to have 57 small dogs and 67 large dogs. They kept saying they would never have that many but never gave an upward limit except to use the standard.


Commissioner Collins was fixated on the compound to disinfect the outside areas. If they use the collector system that was recommended by the CRB, they could have used any number of toxic chemicals and it wouldn’t matter because any runoff would automatically be captured. While they agreed to use the system, neither staff or the applicant bothered to say that.


While I did vote yes with the recommendations to move it to the commission for determination, as a commissioner I would have voted no. The applicant completely ignored the CRB recommendations and then did a new study to increase the number of dogs. In my mind, this made it completely unacceptable.


I never thought it was a great use for the location, but if done with all the safeguards, it conceivably would be acceptable. It appeared that the safeguards were gone entirely by the time it reached the commission. Every neighbor spoke against the use. And one even brought up the fact that kennels were not permitted in the Creek District except in the industrial area. The Creek District begins one block over.


This was a quasi-judicial hearing. As such, strict protocols must be followed. The mayor conducting the meeting goes through a check list to make sure all the “I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed.” In the LDRs 11.01.11 Section G (7) having to do with a Major Conditional Use states that:


The determination of the city commission or community redevelopment board shall be to either find the application:

a.”In compliance” – In the event of a determination of in compliance, the plan shall be deemed approved;

b.”In compliance subject to stated conditions or modifications” – In the event of a determination of in compliance subject to stated conditions or modifications, the applicant may submit a revised application with supporting documentation to the department within 45 working days which complies with said conditions and modifications. The development director shall review the plan for a finding of in compliance; or

c.”Not in compliance” – In the event of a determination of not in compliance, the application shall be rejected and the specific reasons for such determination with reference to the requirements of this Code shall be stated in the resolution.


Under 11.03.07 Section B (13)-(16) which is the way a quasi-judicial hearing should be conducted:


  1. Mayor: Requests direction in the form of a motion.
  2. Mayor: Repeats or clarifies the motion for the record and asks the commissioners to deliberate the motion. Commissioners are encouraged to discuss the motion and their respective positions.
  3. Mayor: Upon conclusion of the deliberation, the mayor calls for a recorded vote of the commission.
  4. Clerk: Records the vote by roll call. The clerk shall randomize the voting order.


This order was passed by the commission in 2021 under Ordinance 2467-2021.

It is my contention that the commission is obligated to respond to the applicant’s submission in 1 of 3 ways: approve, approve with conditions, or deny with the reasons. In this case, no vote was taken. A motion needed to be made to deny with the reasons stated. Not voting is just not permitted under the current code as I read it.


Both the planning director and the planning consultant asked the attorney and manager whether a vote was necessary. They said from the dais the answer was no. I guess the planning director and consultant read the LDRs and resolution the same as I did.


If I am wrong in my interpretation, I would be glad to know how and I will print it in the next edition. Otherwise, this either needs to come back for a vote or the applicant needs to withdraw the application. Can the applicant bring it back for another hearing? How many other applications were denied by no motion being made? I don’t know.


Ordinance 2467-2021 can be found here


And applicant and staff presentation can be found here






The next meeting will be November 22, 2022



Town of Sewall's Point Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Sewalls-Point




At this meeting, both James Campo and Dave Kurzman were sworn in again as commissioners. They were re-elected without opposition. The swearing in was followed by refreshments.

James Campo

When the meeting resumed, both Commissioner Tompeck and Commissioner Kurzman were re-elected by the commission as mayor and vice mayor.


The commission authorized borrowing $2 million from Seacoast Bank to purchase 78 South Sewall’s Point Road. The complete purchase price is $2,170,000. After the town uses part of the land for storm water retention and an outflow, the property will be resold.

David Kurzman

The first payment is due in June with payments twice per year after that. The loan agreement can be found here



Village-Of-Indiantown Friends-and-Neighbors-of-Martin-County-Indiantown-Village





The Commission finished appointing their PZAB members. They are as follows:


Carmine Dipaolo – Scott Watson

Janet Hernandez – Renita Presler

Angelina Perez – Daniel Sehayik

Guyton Stone – Milton Williams

Mayor Susan Gibbs Thomas – Karen Onsager


And for the at large positions:


Janet Hernandez nominated Vernestine Palmer

Angelina Perez nominated Christa Miley


Both of which were unanimously approved.


Good luck board members.


The council extended Nue Urban Concepts contract with no additional payments while the negotiations go on with the county regarding a reduction in county impact fees. The village is proposing to charge a mobility fee which allows for more than just roads.

The village should be able to negotiate a deal like Stuart’s. That would be a 50% reduction in fees. Yet unlike Stuart where there are very few new roads to be built, Indiantown needs many. It will be interesting to see what is developed.


The council approved more that $12 million in loans from SRF for the water plant to be used to upgrade the drinking water. 65% will be forgiven once everything is complete. The council pledged the money collected by the utility for repayment.


Later in the evening, they approved an $18 million grant to upgrade wastewater systems. They had earlier secured SRF loans to further upgrade the treatment plant into a modern system. So far so good with this.


The only contentious issue was once again the matter of reading letters and email in the meetings. Whether or not public comment should be made only in person was the crux of the matter. In almost every government, the answer is no emails and letters are not read. During Covid, procedures were relaxed. Should this be continued after the pandemic?

Hernandez made a motion to allow the reading of written letters and emails into the record. Stone seconded the motion with the caveat that it had to be signed, include an email address and/or phone number, and whether the person was a village resident.


After discussion, Hernandez withdrew the motion when she saw there wasn’t majority support. Then Dipaolo made a motion that if a letter was sent with an address and name attached, then it should be posted on the village website and not read at the meeting. Perez seconded it and it passed 5-0.


Every document received by anyone in Indiantown government is a public record. Every text, drawing, e-mail, scribble, or Facebook post is a public record. The reason for public comment at a meeting is to ensure that all are heard by the council. Does it mean more when you come in person and speak? It would to me.


But as a public official, I would also consider anything a voter communicated to me regardless of how I was given the information. This entire distinction between on the record or not means anything. Reading a letter into the record means nothing. The point of public comment is to make sure the public is heard. And it doesn’t matter how that is done.





Town of Ocean Breeze


The Next Meeting Is October 10, 2022




The new council members, Sandy Kelly (Keblbeck), Liz Reese, and Gina Kent, were sworn into office. The three are from the Seawalk PUD. They seemed a little hesitant but by January, I believe you will probably see a little more assertiveness. Karen Ostrand was sworn in for another term as mayor.


New officers for the council were also chosen. Ken De Angeles was unanimously approved as president. However, there was a split between new and old members for VP. Bill Arnold had three votes and Kelly had three votes.  The nominations were done again (a first!), and Arnold was elected unanimously.


When a council has 6 members, a tie vote can occasionally occur. It may be time for a charter change to bring the council to 5. It is something to be discussed.


Steve Nicolosi, the building official from Stuart, will now act for Ocean Breeze. Larry Massing was the building official until his untimely death a little over a month ago. Nicolosi certainly knows the codes.


Docherty wanted to discuss having the meetings in the evening instead of during the day when many people are at work. This is something he brought up a while ago, but it was shot down when the council was made up of members from the resort only. He urged that the new Seawalk members poll their homeowners.


I don’t know why staff can’t send out a letter to every voter in town to determine their preference. Reese stated that they had already discussed it and that the preferred time was 6:30 pm. It will be considered in the December meeting. The City of Stuart Commission meeting will be held at the same time. Perhaps the council will change to an alternate Monday so that there will be no conflicts.


Attorney Crary did a cursory talk about sunshine and public records law. The League of Treasure Coast Cities is doing a much more in-depth seminar next month that all members should attend.


These meetings are being recorded but microphones are only used about 25% of the time. President De Angeles conducts a very poor meeting. No one seems to have ever heard of Robert’s Rules on this council. The clerk continuously asked that people use their microphones. People were speaking from the audience and not the podium.


I certainly hope the new members don’t pick up the same habits as the others. There needs to be a training. If anyone ever asked to hear the meeting tapes, it would be atrocious. If Ocean Breeze wants to be taken seriously, it needs to conduct itself as a real council.



Jupiter Island Jupiter Island Sky View


The next meeting will be November 21, 2022




In The Spotlight

by Jackie Holfelder




Jackie is always looking for a good story…you may reach her at:


The Joyful Journey of Tara Biek-Robison


I first met Tara about 18 years ago. There was no Luminaries yet, but I was working as an advertising sales rep for EW Scripps (which still owned the Stuart News) and she had just left her job there as a graphic artist to grow her own business.

Tara at Tykes and Teens 2022

She was talented and so nice, and in the years that have followed she’s expanded her talents and definitely stayed just as nice. I’m so glad she’s agreed to share her journey with us.


Tara grew up in Rochester, NY and moved to Chicago to attend college and take additional design classes at The Art Institute of Chicago. She also was accepted into a post-Grad summer design program at Maine College of Art and Design where she took classes with some of the most influential designers in the world.


Her laser engraver machine (an AEON Mira 9 named Mr. Big) is one of the joys of Tara’s life and she loves to use it for crafting and making things for family and friends. Spending time with her family at her parents’ cottage in New Hampshire ranks high on her list of favorite things.

The busy artist/entrepreneur has three legs to her company.

First is Tara Biek Creative, which she has owned since 2000.

She also publishes a monthly Real Estate magazine called Treasure Coast Real Estate and Local Living.

And the newest jewel in her crown is a retail store – CRAFTED the Store – which will be opening soon in Harbour Bay Plaza, between Chico’s and J McLaughlin. She will offer custom gifts, paint and sip parties, birthday parties, DIY kits, subscription boxes and more!

Even if you don’t know Tara personally, chances are you’ve seen her work. She’s designed the logos for Sailfish Splash Water Park, Crown Car Care, Stuart Main Street, and The Martin County Realtors of the Treasure Coast. Tara is excited to move into the plaza and get CRAFTED – the Store up and running. One of her plans is to grow that end of her business with the purchase of another laser machine and other machines that will produce different custom items.

Tara has been married to husband Rob since 2019 and has a 14-year-old step-daughter – Maddie – who goes to the Pine School and is very involved in Starstruck Theatre. Long-haired dachshund Wattson rounds out the family home in Mariner Sands.


She’s proud of the Women of Distinction Award in the Business category that she won from Soroptimist of Stuart in 2008. Tara is also the proud and deserving recipient of more than 60 ADDYS from the Advertising Federation and being the recipient of a Business Development Grant from the BDB of Martin County in 2019.

With her love of community and desire to give back, Tara says she feels like she’s have been involved in just about every non-profit in the county! She currently serves on the Board of The Palm City Chamber of Commerce.

When I used to do 5 Minutes With profiles for Luminaries, Tara was one of the first people I wrote about. I remember that the headline for the column was Tara Biek: The Art in Heart. Somethings never change!


Jackie is always looking for a good story…you may reach her at:



Final Thoughts




Tallahassee can be belligerent toward local municipalities and counties.


But we often forget that both counties and municipalities only exist because the state allows them to do so. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires local governments.  We often cry pre-emption when the state forbids local government from doing something, and I am the first to bemoan the fact. Yet more and more, I see that sometimes the legislature has a reason to do so.


State government wants to see increasing numbers of people move to the Sunshine State. They make no bones about it. Their economic projections are built on that happening. And they will not allow local government from thwarting this plan.

Florida Capitol

Under statute, local government has no choice but to get on board with the program of providing for growth. They must use state projections of population growth in determining land use. The state projects that Martin County’s population will rise by about 9,000 to approximately 170,000 in 2030. For the most part, we can determine where within our boundaries the new people can go, but we must be prepared with enough land set aside to accommodate the influx.


We are further constrained by other sections of statute that call for discouragement of urban sprawl, economic viability, the need for redevelopment of outdated land use patterns and antiquated subdivisions, and a myriad of other qualifications that encourage density within current urban areas.


In many states, new single-family home development is discouraged. Where allowed, they are promoting very small yards if at all. Accessory dwelling units are highly encouraged as are work/live arrangements. The use of cars is discouraged by limiting the number of parking spaces. While we are continuously bellyaching about parking, most new codes are being written to eliminate as many parking spaces as possible.


I have often written that our cities and CRA areas are where dense development belongs. The alternative, when planning for growth, is to have sprawl which is not allowed under the state’s statutes. The state wants to keep farmland for farmers. Farms are a key economic driver in Florida.


People can fight all they want, but if we do not do an adequate job of planning for growth, the state will do it for us. The choice currently is ours. It may not be much longer.






Friends and Neighbors of Martin County is your eyes and ears so that you know what is going on in Martin County’s municipal and county governments. I attempt to be informative and timely so that you may understand how your tax money is being spent. Though I go to the meetings and report back, I am no substitute for your attending meetings. Your elected officials should know what is on your mind.

Tom Campenni 772-341-7455 (c) Email:



Articles Tom wrote:


From Martin County Moment:


“A Deal In The Works”




“The Emperor Has No Clothes”




From Medium


“School Vouchers Can Prevent School Censorship”




“Christian Nationalism For America Is A Fallacy”




Other Articles:


The Capitolist: “Jeff Brandes’ think tank: Live Local Bill will help, but bigger changes needed to fix affordable housing crisis”




The New York Times: “How To Clear 500,000 Ferel Cats From New York Streets”




Trump’s Indictment




Florida Phoenix: “Statehouses debate who should build EV charging networks”




The Washington Post: “Tracing the power of Casey DeSantis”







American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

Annual Medium Income (AMI)

Basin Action Management Plan (BMAP)

Best Management Practices (BMP)

Board of County Commissioners (BOCC)

Business Development Board (BDB)

Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

Career & Technical Education (CTE)

Center For Disease Control (CDC)

Centum Cubic Feet (CCF)

Children’s Services Council (CSS)

Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

Community Development District (CDD)

Community Redevelopment Board (CRB)

Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)

Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR)

Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) 

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

Emergency Operation Center (EOC)

Equivalent Residential Connection (ERC)

Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU)

Evaluation & Appraisal Report (EAR)

Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)

Fixed Asset Replacement Budget (FARB)

Federal Rail Administration (FRA)

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND)

Full Time Equivalents (FTE)

Future Land Use Maps (FLUM)

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO)

High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)

Hobe Sound Local (HSL)

Indian River Lagoon (IRL)

Land Development Code (LDR)

Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS)

Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSUM)

Local Agency Program Certification (LAP)

Local Planning Agency (LPA)

Martin County Fire/Rescue (MCFR)

Martin County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO)

Martin County Taxpayers Association (MCTA)

Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU)

Municipal Service Taxing Unit (MSTU)

Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY)

Organization For Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD)

Parks & Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB)

Planned Unit Development (PUD)

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)

Preserve Action Management Plan (PAMP)

Request for Proposal (RFP)

Residential Planned Unit Development (RPUD)

Right of Way (ROW)

Secondary Urban Services District (SUSD)

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)

South Martin Regional Utility (SMRU)

State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP)

Storm Water Treatment Areas (STA)

Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

Urban Planned Unit Development (UPUD)

Urban Services Boundary (USB)

World Health Organization (WHO)

Zoning-In-Progress (ZIP)

Photo Capt Kimo
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